Mental disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia can be debilitating for the sufferer.  They are often referred to as “invisible illnesses” in that you can’t always see their effects as you would a broken bone or cancer, but the symptoms are nevertheless real and crippling.

For those who are unable to work because of a severe mental disorder, Social Security Disability benefits may be available for the individual.

The Social Security Administration recognizes nine categories of mental illnesses that may qualify for benefits:

  • Organic mental disorders
  • Schizophrenic
  • Paranoid and other psychotic disorders
  • Affective disorders
  • Intellectual disability
  • Anxiety-related disorders
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Substance addiction disorders
  • Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders


To receive disability benefits, you must show proof of more than just a diagnosis of a mental disorder.  You will need to present evidence that your illness is so severe that you are unable to work.

Further, your disorder must last or be expected to last at least 12 months or more at a level where you would be unable to perform a job on a consistent and regular basis.

A treating doctor or psychologist will need to provide ample documentation regarding the severity of your illness, as well as their opinion regarding your ability to hold down meaningful employment. A mental status examination will also be expected from the physician.  A good social security disability lawyer can be instrumental in helping you obtain all necessary opinions and reports from a physician to strengthen your claim.

It is equally important to follow medication and treatment recommendations from your doctor. Failing to take prescribed medication or choosing not to follow the doctor’s order can be seen as “non-compliance” and will likely jeopardize your ability to receive SSD benefits.

If you are not following doctors orders because you cannot afford continuous treatment, you should ask the SSA to send you to a consultative examination with a psychologist.

Again, a good social security disability attorney in New York will advise you on how to obtain the proper documentation and treatment necessary to pursue a successful social security disability claim.   For more tips on how to apply for social security disability benefits, request our free book, “The Disability Guys’ Guide To Navigating Through the SSD Maze.”